Texas governor will sign 'Merry Christmas Bill' despite protest

(Photo: Reuters / Adrees Latif)Texas Governor Rick Perry speaks at the NRA-ILA Leadership Forum at the George R. Brown Convention Center, the site for the National Rifle Association's annual meeting in Houston, Texas on May 3, 2013. It is time to stop demonizing all law-abiding gun owners because of violent acts committed by a few criminals, National Rifle Association leaders and political allies said at its first convention since the Connecticut school massacre. Organizers expect some 70,000 attendees at the 142nd NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits in Houston.

The holidays are becoming a volatile time down in Texas where Governor Rick Perry intends to sign the "Merry Christmas Bill" into law.

The legislation, intended to defend free speech on the grounds of "traditional holidays," has been accused by fierce opposition as a violation of the separation between church and state.

Passed last week, the bill would allow public schools to openly celebrate Christmas without concern over legal action.

In the bill's own language, teachers can say "traditional greetings for traditional winter celebrations," without repercussion.

The bill names Christmas and Hanukkah, but should technically apply to any winter-themed holidays.

The measure, originally introduced to the state house by Rep. Dwayne Bohac, a Republican from Houston, also would allow schools to teach the histories behind these "traditional winter holidays."

They can also set-up commemorative displays, as long as they included more than one religion and a type of "secular scene or symbol."

However, schools cannot endorse or publicly support belief to any one of these religions.

During the bill's introduction, Bohac said in a press statement, "Our school officials and teachers have enough on their plate without having to worry about frivolous lawsuits for celebrating Christmas and Hanukkah."

For Bohac, the moment of epiphany came last December when his six-year-old son told him that they decorated their "holiday tree" with "holiday ornaments."

The revelation left Bohac stunned.

Others remain less euphoric about the bill significance.

Linda Bridges, president of the Texas branch for the American Federation of Teachers, said to Austin-based radio station KTBC, "I think we really have to say does this help education when we are caught up in discussions that have become pure partisan discussions?

"That is not the way we should be looking at education."

Similarly, the ACLU released a statement requesting Texan teachers to recognize that faith is a matter best taught by parents and not public schools.

Others remain more upset about what the measure means.

In an interview with www.rawstory.com, Russell Glasser, co-host of the Austin public access TV show The Atheist Experience, said that the bill could be used to pacify Christians who want to showcase their religion.

"They use this as an excuse all the time to pass laws that basically codify Christianity and make sure that everybody hears about it as often as possible," Glasser said.

Gov. Perry has expressed support for the bill and is expected to sign it soon.

A number of faith groups and have reservations about the Boy Scouts of America's decision to officially admit gay children and teens to its ranks.

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